Body of pilot of missing plane found in Moosehorn River

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UPDATE 12:24 p.m.: Authorities say they have found the body of the pilot of the once-missing plane that was found Thursday morning.

According to the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, they believe the body is that of Thomas Stillwell, 65, of Plymouth. The body was found at 7 a.m. in the Moosehorn River. Authorities say they will have official identification after an autopsy is conducted. 

At this point, no word if there were any other occupants.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the small aircraft, a Mooney 20J, was found about a half mile west of the Carlton County Airport.

Search and rescue operations had been ongoing since Wednesday night.

According to Flight Aware, the plane, belonging to Club Cherokee Inc., was scheduled to fly from Moose Lake to Crystal, Minn. Wednesday at 4:35 p.m.

The plane had flown from Crystal to Moose Lake earlier in the day.

The FAA will investigate, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation.

The cause of the crash is unknown at this time. An autopsy is planned.

Authorities say Stillwell has flown in and out of the airport before.

Stillwell was a doctor of urology. According to Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, Stillwell worked out of their facility twice a month starting in 2002.

Hospital spokespeople called Stillwell “a compassionate and skilled physician.” They extended their condolences to his family, friends and fellow physicians.

His family also issued a statement to CBS 3 Duluth.

“Thank you to everyone who has offered condolences,” Kate Stillwell, Thomas Stillwell’s daughter, wrote. “We know he has touched the lives of many people. We too offer condolences to all of those who shared in his spirit of generosity.”

Stillwell was also a long-standing member of Club Cherokee, a flying club based in Crystal, MN.

“The Minnesota aviation community is a close-knit family, and any time there is an aircraft incident, we are all affected. Today, Club Cherokee has experienced a terrible loss in our family. At this time, we would like to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends. As the investigation into the incident continues, we will be working with the FAA and NTSB to the fullest extent,” wrote Bruce Killam, club manager.


Authorities say they have found a missing plane in a river near the Carlton County Airport in Moose Lake, but have not shared details about any of its occupants.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the small aircraft, a Mooney 20J, was found about a half mile west of the Carlton County Airport.

As of Thursday morning, no word on how many people were aboard, or extent of any injuries.

Search and rescue operations had been ongoing since Wednesday night.

According to Flight Aware, the plane, belonging to Club Cherokee Inc was scheduled to fly from Moose Lake to Crystal, MN Wednesday at 4:35 p.m.

The plane had flown from Crystal to Moose Lake earlier in the day.

The FAA will investigate, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation.

Briggs LeSavage

Briggs LeSavage

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